I know a thing or two about the VA aid & attendance improved pension benefit. After all, I’ve counseled over 450 veterans families and brought in millions of dollars in benefits to them. The problem is that whenever there are government benefits and entitlements, there are scams and dishonest people trying to rip the claimants off. There have been several articles written about this problem in the aid and attendance field and here’s another one. The stories are usually similar: veteran taken to the cleaners by an insurance/financial guy.
I don’t know what really happened in the featured mishap, but the story does illustrate one very important issue. Who should you have assist you in applying for the Aid & Attendance benefit? In the story, the victim had an insurance/financial guy lead the strategy with an attorney apparently in the background reacting to what the insurance guy prescribed. That was the veteran’s biggest mistake.
There are a number of key differences between insurance guys in this field and attorneys. I don’t have time to deal with all of them but, first, the only thing the insurance guy has in his arsenal of weapons is an insurance product, usually an annuity. An attorney will have a number of different approaches. While an attorney may bring in an insurance guy to sell the client an annuity, that probably is not going to be the attorney’s first choice. (We blogged our take on annuities on August 16, 2011 at Is an Annuity the Answer?) Secondly, insurance guys rarely know anything about Medi-Cal. Why is that important: because what you do to become eligible for the VA Aid & Attendance benefit usually affects your later eligibility for Medi-Cal.
For example, if Dad is in an assisted living facilty (ALF) and falls and breaks his hip he is going to wind up in a skilled nursing facility (SNF). The SNF charges are usually going to be at a minimum 3-4 times what the ALF was charging. So the family is going to be looking to Medi-Cal to pick up the excess charges. But depending on what was done to become eligible for Aid & Attendance is going to affect how long Dad has to wait to become eligible for Medi-Cal. If things were done incorrectly (a not uncommon situation with an insurance guy running the show), there could be a 17 month penalty before Medi-Cal will start paying. On the other hand, if things were done correctly, the penalty may be as low as 2-3 months. If the SNF is costing $10,000 per month that is a difference of $140,000 in Medi-Cal benefits. And that money is going to have to be paid from somewhere, most often from the family.
Because of the continuing scams in this field, we have created a report entitled Who Do You Want to Have Assist You in Your Application for VA Aid & Attendance. Email me if you want a copy We also have a free program to help you determine if you are eligible for the VA Aid & Attendance Benefit.